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Formula 1 Bahrain GP

McLaren commits to race in F1 with innovative dynamic sponsor panels

McLaren has given the green light to race in Formula 1 with the innovative dynamic digital sponsor panels that it tested at the end of last season.

McLaren announcement Android 5G

Photo by: McLaren

As first reported by Autosport, dynamic panels that are fitted in sections along either side of the cockpit and are visible from onboard cameras allow the team to change the branding on the car while it is out on track.

McLaren initially trialled the concept during free practice sessions from last year’s United States Grand Prix, but wanted to check on their effectiveness and any potential weight penalty before committing to compete with them.

Mark Turner, the CEO of the Seamless Digital company that came up with the idea, revealed that he had got the panels down to around 200 grammes when they were first run on the car.

Speaking to Autosport at the time he said: “We have a good finger on the pulse of what's an acceptable mass target. So ranging from the heaviest paint jobs in 2021, which were three plus kilos, we are now down to around 1000 grammes. That's kind of given us the benchmark as our metric for what does success looks like for this system.

"So the [dynamic] system on the McLaren, we're at around 200 grammes. But we are continuing to iterate the design."

Seamless Digital has also come up with a dynamic system that can be fitted to helmets, which weighs just 16 grammes.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

McLaren has devoted the panels on its car to different branding options for team sponsor Google Chrome.

The original idea for the dynamic panels came many years ago when Turner worked with the now defunct Manor team, and he was thinking up ways to help its sponsorship struggles. 

"Manor would design liveries that had these large voids for title partners that never really materialised," Turner explained.

"It got us thinking about: how do you go about potentially monetising the sport in a different way so you're not relying on one large single partner? And what kind of technology is out there that could assist in that?

"So we looked at ways to change brands quickly. Can we change brands on a car in a race? Can we change it sector by sector? Can we have a different brand on the left-hand side and the right-hand side of the car?

"It needed to be maximum impact, minimum penalty from a mass perspective. And that was where this thought came from."

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